The world of management is changing at an unprecedented rate which places pressure on managers to adapt in order to cope with the challenges that emerge. A manager responsible for leading a Learning Focused Organisation in the 21st Century should possess some important skills, knowledge and attributes (SKAs) to lead an organisation effectively. Ten SKAs will be looked at with supporting evidence demonstrating their importance to managers in a fast moving world.
Effective communication skills are a large aspect of a manager’s role in a 21st century organisation as it is an every day skill which entails many facets. Listening, verbalising and sharing knowledge spreading through all levels of an organisation. Infante et al argues that the communication process must include tools which encourage openness, dialogue and honesty within a multicultural and changing organisation (Infante et al, 1995, pp 307).
Relationship building skills are important in creating and maintaining quality contacts that may help a manager to access various resources needed to develop a Learning Focused Organisation. Jacowski (2008) suggest that building lasting relationships with those in similar industries is vital, as they can provide valuable services for an organisation in the future.
Time management skills are important, Brooks & Schofields (1995, p4) state “time equals money and that without effective management; both time and money are consumed quickly and can appear to evaporate”. Time spent on specific tasks can be measured through estimation, questioning and interviewing resulting in the saving of money and the overall time scale spent to be market ready (Brooks & Schofields, 1995). The allocation of time, money and resources is a vital component to developing a Learning Focused Organisation in the 21st Century.
Problem solving is a valuable skill derived from a rational or logical perspective incorporating four steps. Carlopio, et al; argue the value of developing problem solving skills is to assist the 21st century manager in coping with constant change (Carlopio, et al, 1997, p169). In applying these skills they suggest steps such as define the problem, generate alternative solutions, evaluate and select an alternative and implement and follow up on a selected solution.
Liu and Chen (2002) suggest that conflict resolution skills are important to managers of the 21st century especially now with a very multicultural work force influencing outcomes. Culture determines ones values, interests, it shapes perceptions and the choice of alternatives. (Liu & Chen, 2002, p170). Minor conflicts can destroy team spirit so it is important for a manager to deal with these conflicts promptly and effectively (Knutson, 2001).
A manager of the 21st Century must be prepared to anticipate and cope with change. As new changes arise regularly with the advancement in technology, customer and stakeholder’s needs and the global situations, a manager must be prepared to accustom themselves for constant change. Continual change with continual improvement. Hermens proposes that today’s survival of an organisation depends more and more on the rapid response to the changing world, also requiring a manager to be flexible, adaptable and change ready. (Hermens, 2009, p16)
As global situations change it is a role of managers to innovate so that an organisation may stand out in these quickly changing times. “A business which is serious about competing in fast changing markets with fast changing technology must make things happen – it must innovate” (Johne, 1999, p7) contribution to an organisations competitive advantage. Sexton (2003) also argued there was a link between innovation and competitive advantage for successful companies in the 21st century.
Self development and continual learning is vital to managers in a rapid changing 21st Century in order for the organisation not to be left...
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